There is a certain simplicity at play with Arvoles especially the way tunes seem to build from the ground up via tiny motifs... but then layer complexity upon complexity into a remarkable confection that escapes category harnessing folk, bebop, rock and classical music flavours often delivered with extraordinary facility.  The record was recorded in a studio in Sweden earlier this year. ‘Arvoles’, which means ‘Trees’ in the ancient Sephardic language Ladino, finds Cohen with the trio that he introduced to Ronnie Scott’s audiences earlier this year, featuring newcomer Elchin Shirinov from Azerbaijan on piano and Cohen’s old school friend Noam David on drums, plus Anders Hagberg on flute and Björn Samuelsson, trombone. The horns add a bright attractive flavour and fill out the tunes. “You could say I’m going back to basics,” Cohen has noted. “Nostalgia at its best is the strongest, most romantic, sincere, bitter-sweet feeling. And I agree it’s all over the record, with compositions like ‘Childhood’, ‘New York 90s’ and ‘Nostalgia’. Thoughts? Well, it is a solid record and the horn arrangements add an attractive flavour. I am not sure if the compositions are as strong as you will find on some Cohen albums but the bar is set high. I’d pick ‘New York 90s’ and the Monk-like ‘Wings’ as the stand-outs and most relevant to jazz listeners. Go there first. SG 

 

Top quality free improv here from Shifa on Live at Cafe Oto. 

Shifa is an Arabic word meaning “healing” and the group in question features three leading UK players: Black Top pianist Pat Thomas; saxophonist Rachel Musson and drummer Mark Sanders.

The record was recorded live at Dalston club Cafe Oto in London last year and is scheduled for a July vinyl release on New York label 577 Records.

There are so many albums around at the moment that you just do not want to listen to the end.

And then there is The Long Game: you listen to the end and then you start all over again.

It is a very different Liam Noble, the electric dare I say “prog” side emerging as if for the first time. 

In the company of two ex-Polar Bear players Tom Herbert on bass and Seb Rochford on drums this is not the usual jazz trio. The tunes are Noble’s, there is plenty of mischief at play which gives the album a life and personality, and while on ‘Between You and Me’ by using piano a bit he is on more familiar territory the scenery changes quickly enough, just listen to the weird noises filtering up from the innards of the album.

‘Unmemoried Man’ is fun, the sound direction switching from left to right, a kind of a game, pin the tail on the pianist... and those odd little background hisses and fades adding peculiar seasoning.

‘Head of Marketing’ has a kind of slyly funky cod serious pisstake quality to it dressed up to sound like one of the many hundreds of Bill Frisell records that can it is rumoured even be found at the bottom of the Mariana Trench wrapped inside all those discarded plastic bags from Tesco.

‘Head First’ has a kind of heavy metal madness to it and Herbert piles in, with Noble as if kidnapped forced to keep up with Rochford’s hyperactive drums muttering as he tinkles no doubt about how much he likes Deerhoof because it would be rude not to.

‘Head Over Heels’ has a Django Bates type sense of mischief again, some crazy settings chosen on the keys to make the thing sound as if it is all under water. Some times I think of Billy Jenkins a little circa Blue Moon in a Function Room in the way Noble has fun say on the perky ‘Pink Mice’ but there is plenty to ponder too and ‘Flesh and Blood’ stops you in your tracks and ‘Matcha Mind’ has a pile of microscopic detail that succeeds in making the sound intimate and personal and probably the most significant piece of the whole thing. Definitely among the best albums that I have heard this year. Noble goes from strength to strength and pulls the rug from under us poor unsuspecting listeners yet again. SG